While the ease and efficiency of digital record-keeping keeps revolutionizing businesses worldwide, they also introduce an era of unprecedented risks. Cybersecurity is no longer a buzzword but a critical mandate for digital safety.
The personal and sensitive nature of medical records makes them a lucrative target for cybercriminals. The after-effects of a breach can be devastating, impacting the provider’s reputation. A proactive approach towards cybersecurity becomes an imperative solution rather than a choice.
In this evolving digital landscape, companies must implement robust strategies to prevent hacking attempts and protect sensitive information. These effective ways to keep medical records safe from hackers will ensure business data remains confidential and, most importantly, safe.
Install Robust Firewall and Antivirus Software
Implementing a robust firewall and antivirus software provides a solid foundation for a cybersecurity strategy. A firewall is a digital barrier that examines and regulates the data traffic to and from your network. It allows only legitimate traffic while blocking anything suspicious or potentially harmful, keeping your systems safe from malware, ransomware, and other cyber threats.
Antivirus software scans your systems continuously for any known threats. It’s a dynamic tool that requires constant updates to identify and remove the latest malware. A comprehensive antivirus solution detects threats, repairs corrupted files, and removes malware from your system, minimizing the potential damage.
Use Strong, Unique Passwords
Strong and unique passwords are one of the most basic yet crucial aspects of cybersecurity. They are the first line of defense in preventing unauthorized access to sensitive medical records. Complexity and length determine the strength of a reliable password; the more complex and longer it is, the harder it is for hackers to crack.
It’s essential to ensure that passwords are unique, meaning you should not reuse them across multiple accounts or websites. Doing so can allow hackers to access your accounts, particularly those with the same password.
Implement Two-Factor Authentication
Implementing two-factor authentication (2FA) can significantly enhance the security of your medical records. 2FA requires users to provide two separate forms of identification to gain access to your systems. This process involves something the user knows, like a password, and something they have, like a one-time code sent to their mobile device.
This additional step makes it much harder for hackers to breach your system. Even if they crack a user’s password, they still need the second form of authentication, which is usually time-sensitive and unique to each login attempt.
Employ an E-Verify Background Check Company
Employing an E-Verify background check company is crucial in securing your healthcare organization’s sensitive data. These companies specialize in verifying and validating a potential employee’s identity and employment eligibility, ensuring your staff is trustworthy.
E-Verify is an online system the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) operates in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA). It cross-verifies the information provided by employees on their I-9 Forms against the records available in the DHS and SSA databases. This process helps to confirm that the individual has authorization to work in the United States.
Encrypt All Data
Encryption is a method of converting data into a code to prevent unauthorized access. In healthcare, encrypting medical records safeguards them if they fall into the wrong hands. Encrypted data transforms into a series of random characters. You can only rearrange these characters to their original form with a special key.
Encryption comes in two forms: symmetric and asymmetric. Symmetric encryption uses a single key for both the encryption and decryption processes, while asymmetric encryption uses different keys for each process.
Update Software Regularly
Regularly updating your software is fundamental to keeping medical records safe from hackers. Software updates often come with patches that fix known vulnerabilities, which cyber criminals could exploit to break into your systems.
Software updates include operating systems, applications, electronic medical record (EMR) systems, antivirus software, and firewalls. These components could potentially have security loopholes, so keeping all software up-to-date is crucial.
Staff training is critical to a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy for any business that handles important health information. Despite advancements in safeguarding technologies, human error remains one of the most common causes of security breaches.
Training should cover different topics, including recognizing and dealing with phishing attempts. Also, understanding the importance of strong passwords, correctly handling patient data, and adhering to data privacy laws is imperative.
Utilize a Secure Network
A secure network plays a pivotal role in forming a robust layer of protection for your medical records. Creating such a network begins with leveraging a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for remote access. A VPN creates a private network from a public internet connection, masking your internet protocol (IP) address and making your online actions virtually untraceable.
Using a company-wide VPN ensures secure access to healthcare networks for staff working remotely and protects the data transmitted during this access from possible interception.
Regular backups are an insurance policy for your healthcare practice against data loss due to cyber-attacks, hardware failures, or even human error. Keeping copies of your important medical records can restore your system to its previous state and ensure business continuity.
You must perform backups regularly—daily, weekly, or monthly—depending on the volume and nature of the data. Follow the 3-2-1 backup rule:
- Have at least three copies of your data
- Store the copies on two different media
- Keep one backup copy offsite
Hire a Cybersecurity Professional
Hiring a cybersecurity professional is a strategic move for healthcare organizations. Cybersecurity professionals have the skills and knowledge to identify potential vulnerabilities within your systems, develop strategies to mitigate risks and ensure the organization’s compliance with data protection laws and regulations.
A cybersecurity professional can conduct regular penetration testing and security audits, where they simulate cyberattacks to identify weak points in your system’s defense. They can also set up advanced security measures, like intrusion detection systems, firewalls, and encryption for data security.
In an era where data breaches are not uncommon, the security of medical records is of pivotal concern. These strategies offer a comprehensive approach to cybersecurity aimed at protecting these vital records from potential threats.
It’s important to underline that cybersecurity is not a one-time effort. It is a continuous process that requires regular updates, constant vigilance, and a commitment to education and improvement. The evolving nature of cyber threats mandates that various industries stay ahead of the curve by consistently updating their knowledge and strengthening their defenses.